The Pythonissa: A Slippery Soothsayer

Here’s a new insult for you: Margery Ryvel was excommunicated by the church in April 1348 for practising divination, superstition and illusion. Whichever clerk wrote the report that survives in the Register of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter, clearly did not like her or her activities. The report reads as a barely-concealed rant on … Continue reading The Pythonissa: A Slippery Soothsayer

Carry On, Don’t Lose Your Head

Just because you’ve been decapitated doesn’t mean you have to stop helping your friends. On and off over the past couple of months I’ve been researching into one of my favourite magic cases about a man planning to trap a spirit inside a severed head, and today I realised – bugger – that I’ve been … Continue reading Carry On, Don’t Lose Your Head

Dick Tales (with apologies to Disney’s ‘Duck Tales’)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that genitalia are funny (and that starting an article in such a way is a massive cliché, I’m sorry). Especially dicks. All through history you can find graffiti of penises, crude jokes and the like. I really don’t know why – perhaps it’s to be edgy, explore taboo ideas … Continue reading Dick Tales (with apologies to Disney’s ‘Duck Tales’)

Medieval Magic, Folklore and Superstition: the Dissertation Stirs…

I've been rather quiet recently because I've been a busy bee working on my masters degree. All the teaching is out of the way now, so it's time to get my teeth into some proper research. Like my very good friend over at Grendel's Handbag (who you should go and check out RIGHT NOW, especially … Continue reading Medieval Magic, Folklore and Superstition: the Dissertation Stirs…